Tiv & People of Northern Nigeria

Tiv People

The Tivs have no centralized political administration; they are noted for extreme individualism. They inhibit the area south of the river Benue. The centres of administration are mainly Makurdi and Gboko.


The Tivs are organized politically or territorially into sect. There are five sects in Tiv land. These sects are further divided into clans and sub clan. Each sect is made up of clans and sub clans. Again each sub clan is made up group of family.

The basic centre of administration is the lineage system which is formulated patrilineally to any one individual of the original group. The authority of any individual is limited to the lineage circuit.

The eldest man among them exercise authority over them, the authority of the elder does not exceed their lineage.

The tivs have no chief who controls the affairs of the people. The tivs are known to be vast in mystical malice and leaders are tried with this mystical malice. An individual can attain to leadership position through his ability to exhibit and show high knowledge of ritual prowess.

The tivs distinguished between elders and men of affluence, within each lineage, the elders are highly respected due to their ages and spiritual power and this offer them recognition and privileges.


Despite the reference made, the elders held no political powers; they are consulted on matter of importance concerning the society as a whole. Some of these elders are men of affluence and prestige. Those people, who were able to amass wealth, derive prestige and honor from it.

But before honor is accorded to the wealthy, the person concerned must display his wealth in the purchase of slaves or dependants or in eating and drinking and in marrying many wives.

The tivs are naturally farmers and they produce in large quantity. Such crops like yam, melon, maize, millets and timbers are produced there due to the geographical location.

The tiv people are naturally good fighters and were extensively used during the Nigeria civil war.


Nigeria lies within 5° and 18° north of the equator and 5° and 15° east of the Greenwich meridian. It is bounded in the north by Niger Republic and in the south by Atlantic Ocean and in the west by Republic of Dahomey and in the east by Cameroun Republic.

It has an area of 373 thousand miles. There are four major high areas namely the North Central highland, the Eastern highland, the Western upland and the North-Eastern highland.

Nigeria lies within the tropical zone. The climate and the vegetation determine the type of food and cash crop to be produced in each zone. Whereas such crops like cassava, cocoa and palm produce etc are produced in the south due to the abundance of rainfall.

In the North where there is less rainfall, such crops like maize, millet and groundnut are produced. There are two major seasons in Nigeria, mainly dry and rainy season.

The People of Northern Nigeria

The people of Northern Nigeria occupy the area called Northern Region. The dominant tribes in these areas are the Hausa and Fulani’s. There are also other tribes such as the Kanuri’s, the Tivs, and the Nupes. Both the Hausa and Fulani’s speak almost the same language, though they may be some dialectical differences between the two.

 There also non Hausa in the Northern region who are not fully admitted into Hausa political and social activities.

These tribes include the Tivs, the Igala, Borno, they are seen as people who do not have the same historical origin with Hausa and did not embrace the Islamic faith.

Furthermore, the Fulani’s are divided into three groups namely, the Nomadic Fulani’s, Settle Fulani’s and the Semi settle Fulani’s.

The nomadic Fulani’s are by nature destined to be cattle rearers, the profession which keeps them homeless. They go about with their cattle’s in search of grazing and when one is found they settle momentary and when the grasses are gone they pack their things and go.

The settled Fulani’s are those who occupies permanent homes and are found scattered around northern towns. They practice agriculture in subsistent nature. The semi settle Fulani’s can rightly called people of double profession. They practice agriculture and cattle rearing, a profession which seems to deny them of permanent homes.

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